CPAG critical of government’s New Deal back-to-work plans

Campaign charity the Child Poverty Action Group has urged the government to think again over plans to outsource its back-to-work schemes.

The call comes after MPs on the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts criticised schemes set up under the New Deal as being inflexible and ineffective. CPAG is concerned that recommendations from the government-commissioned Freud Report, published in March last year to look at privatising employment services, will not do enough to remedy the situation.

Job entry rates falling

The Committee concluded that job entry rates from New Deal programmes were “levelling off or declining” and that only two such programmes saved more money than was spent. In particular, it was found that the New Deal for Partners programme, which targets benefit claimants’ partners, only attracted around 200 people every month.

In the light of the fact that 60% of workless households are concentrated in just 40 districts across the UK, MPs also recommended greater involvement of local organisations to “reach out” to workless households.

Local knowledge

CPAG chief executive Kate Green said: “The Committee is right to highlight the importance of local knowledge of barriers to work in the communities where most worklessness is concentrated. Ministers should reconsider Freud’s proposals to spend £167bn of tax payers’ money on large-scale private providers.”

Liberal Democrat shadow work and pensions secretary Danny Alexander said that the Committee had highlighted long-standing problems. He added: “The government’s one-size-fits-all programmes are ignoring hard-to-reach groups that must be supported back into work.”

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